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Facility will help businesses to harness 3D printing technique

Exeter University has taken delivery of a machine that will place its Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM) at the forefront of 3D printing.

CALM, a £2.6m facility that will officially launch later this year, will enable businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers to harness the potential of the new 3D printing technique.

This is a new production technique that can create complex or bespoke parts and complete products by building them up one layer at a time in specialist machines.

The facility has taken delivery of a machine that allows 3D printing using a type of high-performance plastic that can be used as an alternative to metal due to its strength and heat resistance.

According to Exeter University, the EOSINT P800 is the only machine in the UK that can manufacture high-performance thermoplastics (such as PEEK and PEK) through the additive-layer process.

Dr Sara Flint, commercial manager for CALM, said: ‘Additive-layer manufacturing allows you to design and make things that were impossible to make before. You can make complex components or reduce something that used to be made from several parts to just one piece.

‘There are so many practical applications for it and yet it’s a new and developing area. There are huge opportunities to innovate and improve existing products by making them lighter, stronger or more efficient.’

Major areas of interest for the technique are said to include making medical implants, aerospace components or even high-end parts for F1 cars.

Prof Ken Evans, dean of the university’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, said: ‘Here at CALM we’re encouraging companies, from inventors and designers to high-tech businesses conducting large-scale research and development, to utilise our facilities and expertise to get started. We can provide technical expertise in additive-layer manufacturing to businesses across all sectors.’

Businesses wanting to find out more about the CALM centre and how they can use its facilities can find out more at this address:

Readers' comments (2)

  • Sounds like another university using tax payers' money for a commercial venture, unfairly under cutting the competition

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  • Academia is already very well served in several university centres of excellence in the UK - The 3 I have been involved with are:-

    Cranfield University who developed the technology of Additive Manufacture almost 2 decades ago and then brought off by Rolls Royce who essentially defined it generically as Additive Manufactrure (adding features by adding material as against Subtractive Manufacture (creating features by machining material away). Cranfield now run projects under the acronym RUAM - Ready to Use Additive Manufacture and hold regular workshops. Part of the Cranfield Innovative manufacturing Research Centre (The EPSRC funded Cranfield I.M.R.C.). Rolls Royce also named making things by depositing near net shapes in weld metal Shaped Metal Deposition - Something Welding Engineers have done as a 'stop gap' technique as long as welding has been around without calling it AM or SMD - The Cranfield and Rolls Royce development was recognising Additive manufucature as an efficient and viable alternative to conventional Subtractive Manufacture especially for long lead time parts that cause MRPII planning difficulties saucuing raw components years in advance when AM/SMD can manufacture just in time near net shapes to order.

    The industry supported Loughbourough University Rapid Manufactucting Unit that has been around for 15 or so years with laser powder bed systems. My former employer was a member and I looked after the collaboration.

    The EPSRC funded Nottingham University Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (N.I.M.R.C) and the Rolls Royce funded Advanced Manufacturing Facility in the Nottingham University Manufacturing Engineer Department. (I represented my company on the industrial board of the N.I.M.R.C.)

    Idustry wise there is the UK Welding Institute at Cambridge and Rotherham with powder through lasers and Direct Write Laser Powder Beds for rapid prototyping and rapid manufacture in metal using Shaped Metal Deposition in plastics and metals from 3D CAD models. Dr Robert Scudamore,the LASER Section head at TWI Rotherham also chairs the Association of Industrial Laser Users (A.I.L.U.) working group on Additive Manufacture and Shaped Metal Deposition (AM/SMD) where members of the AILU help each other with their AM/SMD issues where Lasers are the melting heat source used in AM/SMD - The A.I.L.U. membership comprises LASER Users from Laser Supply Companies, Academia, Sub Contractors and Manufacturers and is very cheap to join.

    I cant see what CALM can do that is not already being done and openly reported.

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